My hair flails in the wind as we skim and bounce across the water, foamy spray coating my sunglasses. Our speedboat – a Riva, no less – speeds like a polished wooden bullet from inlet to bay, from sleek marina to spectacular coastline. Tiny islands inhabited by lone monasteries flit close by. High above, ancient Roman, oriental and Byzantine settlements cling to precipitous rocky hillsides. Agave, mimosa, oleander and pomegranate plants bring a Mediterranean flavour to the landscape.

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I could be cruising the 1950s French Riviera or skirting one of Italy’s famed lakes, a playboy heading for a fabulous lunch with a whole host of beautiful people. But I’m not. I’m in Boka Bay on the Montenegrin coast. A drowned river canyon not far from the Adriatic Sea, this imposing mountainous landscape is often called the southernmost fjord in Europe, and it’s not what I had expected at all. I came for the wine, but I’ll stay for the scenery.

We are heading for lunch, though – quayside in the baroque town of Perast at the much-lauded Conte hotel and restaurant. I saunter from boat to table (precisely three steps) and order a fine local rosé and platter of plump, fresh seafood to gorge on, but no one bats an eyelid at this grandiose entrance. It’s just another day in this Unesco-protected corner of wealthy southeast Europe. It’s a stirring first impression of a country with a recent history that could only be described as tumultuous. Formally independent for only 11 years, much of Montenegro’s tourism was crippled by the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s but it has bounced back with impressive alacrity.

Nowhere is that more evident than in Porto Montenegro, the purpose-built marina complex that feels more like an exclusive suburb of some benign, wealthy US city. Pristine, prefab shops, bars and restaurants line the perfectly groomed walkways, vast opulent yachts and motor cruisers bob serenely in hundreds of berths built to cater to any size of floating pleasure palace, and at the far end the Regent hotel rears majestically over everything – an architectural tribute to the area’s 400 years under Venetian rule. It’s a grand vision and a hefty investment in the area – more than €420m so far. It speaks volumes of the Dubai-based investors’ confidence in its geographic and historic appeal, in its spectacular scenery, opportunities for adventure (there’s sailing, skiing, hiking, rafting and much more all within day-tripping distance) and the fine regional food and wine.

The nectar of the gods in particular is starting to enjoy a boom as individuals and industry both look to capitalise on the fertile grounds and fine weather needed to create a damn good vranac, merlot or chardonnay. I head to Castel Savina, an idyllic family-run winery perched high on the mountainside with eye-popping views across the bay of Kotor. Wine master Zoran had disappeared on an impromptu fishing trip, so his knowledgeable wife Gordana guides me through their 17 years of effort paying homage to the original winemakers of 18th century Venetia who tilled the same soil, blanketing the landscape in vines and the odd monastery for good measure.

Huge man-carved caves sit directly under the vines, the eerie gaping entrances betray their original purpose – as underground bunkers where the Yugoslav Air Force hid its planes from enemy attack

It’s a spectacular endeavour with vines twisting between swimming pool and tennis court up to the door of their sprawling villa. Cellars are stuffed with gleaming metal vats and the smell of souring grape juice lingers in the air. I wonder how commercially effective such a homely operation can be as I chat to Gordana (who was particularly enthused by my presence, excitedly telling me how square mile was her “London bible” for the many years she lived in the city post-war before her return home). But when the wine tasting comes, my fears evaporate – the smallest vineyard in Montenegro Savina may be, but each of the four wines it produces is superb, the merlot a particular highlight.

From one end of the scale to the other, a two-hour trundle south of Tivat to a converted airfield on the outskirts of capital city Podgorica, Cemovsko Field is the biggest single site vineyard in Europe. And when I say it’s big, I mean it’s vast, leviathan, gigantic. Built in 1963 and planted upon continuously ever since, it covers 2,310 hectares and houses around 11.5 million vines – in one field.

The drive through is spellbinding, and climbing to the roof of a building at its epicentre feels like climbing to a ship’s crow’s nest in an endless sea of greens and browns, waves of vines perfectly groomed to the horizon in every direction. I feel drunk and I haven’t had a single drop. Yet. “We produce around 17 million bottles of wine a year under the Plantaze label, mostly for the domestic and regional markets,” explains local guide Maria in response to our open-mouthed silence. “Oh, and 95% of the grapes are handpicked by around 2,000 workers. Now, to the Sipcanik cellars…”

Equally spectacular, the Sipcanik cellars are the perfect place for the grapes to settle, ferment and mature. Huge man-carved caves sit directly under the vines, the eerie gaping entrances betray their original purpose – as underground bunkers where the Yugoslav Air Force hid its planes from enemy attack. As we enter, the balmy afternoon temperatures plummet to a cool 18 degrees and the sunlight fades into gloom, soon replaced by strip lights illuminating thousands of vast oak barrels stretching endlessly into far-reaching tunnels.

We wander over to a banquet table that could easily seat 100 and settle to taste the fruits of their labour. The offering is prodigious – international grapes like sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, marselan and more, but it’s the indigenous vranac and krstac grapes that steal the show. The unpronounceable crnogorski sauvignon is an award-winning floral white, the vranac barrique an oaky, toasty dry red that goes perfectly with the prosciutto and manchego we’re offered in a heroic if faltering bid to maintain our sobriety. I taste them all and I like them all, yet they’re all criminally hard to find on British shores. Until that changes, I guess you’ll just have to visit and try them for yourself.

For more information on the Regent Hotel, see See for info on Castel Savina, and to find out more about the Plantaze vineyards.